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Read by Dave and Charley

Today Mel Broadhurst (Marine Ecologist) has joined Aurelie to tell you about their work in the marine environment which is important for seabirds, by providing a variety of food including fish, limpets and worms. These marine species are also part of wider food chains, either as prey or predators. Marine food chains include other marine species, such as seaweed, plankton and crabs.

Rocky shore food web

Rocky shore food web

These species, and many, many more, are part of a marine environment that covers a vast range of habitats, including intertidal rocky shorelines and eelgrass bed meadows habitats.

Intertidal rocky shorelines can be found across the Channel Islands and the UK and are extremely vital for seabirds and other marine life. Within intertidal rocky shorelines, different marine species live at different shore levels. This is due to their ecological adaptions to the exposure of air from the falling tide.

Intertidal zone

Intertidal zone

The upper shore comprises of marine species that can cope with being exposed to the air for the longest time. This includes marine species, such as lichens and seaweeds. You can also find the strandline here, where debris washes up from the sea.

Upper shoreline marine algae

Upper shoreline marine algae

Strandline

Strandline

The middle shore comprises of marine species such as limpets and crabs. Their shells help protect them from exposure and predation.

Mid-shoreline limpets

Mid-shoreline limpets

The lower shore comprises of marine species that are that uncovered by the tide for a short time. This include species such as barnacles, kelp and blue-rayed limpets.

Lower shoreline barnacles

Lower shoreline barnacles

Lower shoreline juvenile kelp

Lower shoreline juvenile kelp

Lower shoreline kelp

Lower shoreline kelp

Some marine species also hide under boulders or in rockpools throughout the shoreline, to avoid exposure and predation. Even the most boring rock can have a variety of marine species underneath! Why not explore your nearest shorelines to see what you can find?

Rockpool

Rockpool

Mid-shoreline boulders appear bland on top...

Mid-shoreline boulders appear a bit bland on top...

...but can have life underneath like this painted topshell...

...but can have life underneath like this painted topshell...

...or this velvet swimming crab

...or this velvet swimming crab

Eelgrass bed meadows are found starting from the lower shore level  and extend out to sea. If the tide is very low, you might be able to see them. They comprise of sandy substrates with eelgrass growing out of the sand, it looks a lot like a meadow under the sea!

Eelgrass in the intertidal zone

Eelgrass in the intertidal zone

Eelgrass underwater

Eelgrass underwater

They are known as very important marine habitats as they can act as nursery sites for juvenile fish. Other special marine species are also found in this habitat, such as sea horses and pipefish, which seabirds sometimes eat.

ECOLOGIST'S UPDATE

This past weekend saw the return of our common tern colony. These birds nest on a grass verge of a rock on the west end of Saye Bay.

Common tern

Common tern

On Saturday 10 or more were seen from the boat and on Sunday 22 were seen from the land. This is very promising as last year we had 14 breeding pairs and are hoping for the same, or more, this year. They are monitored in three sessions; mid-June, mid-July and early August. As we complete these surveys we will update you with how they are getting on.

Let us hope we see many chicks, like this one from 2013, again in July

Let us hope we see many chicks, like this one from 2013, again in July